Villa confirm Houllier exit

Houllier is parting company with Villa because of concerns over his

health after his recent heart problems. It has been common

knowledge for 24 hours that Houllier’s reign was coming to an end

after he underwent further medical tests before the weekend.

Fulham’s Mark Hughes one of the early names to be linked with the

post. Houllier was unable to take charge of team affairs for the

final five games of the season and doctors have advised that he

will require further time to recuperate. Villa chief executive Paul

Faulkner said: “I would like to thank Gerard for his considerable

efforts over the past nine months and for the dedication,

commitment and work ethic he has demonstrated as Villa manager. “We

regret the circumstances of Gerard’s departure and, naturally, we

wish him well in his continued recovery. “I know I speak for

everyone associated with Aston Villa in expressing our hope that

Gerard will return to full health as quickly as possible and we

wish him all the best for the future.” Faulkner added: “As a board

we are very conscious of the need to ensure that the club is

prepared fully to meet the demands of the new season. “To that end,

we have already embarked upon the process which will lead to the

appointment of a new manager. “We will update when appropriate and

until such time as we can make an announcement there will be no

further comment from the club on this matter.” Houllier has hinted

he may eventually return to football. He said: “I am extremely

disappointed that I will not have the opportunity to manage Aston

Villa next season. “My health has improved considerably since I was

taken ill on April 20. I now intend to take the next few months to

concentrate on recuperating fully before I may return to football.

“I was very much looking forward to the prospect of my first full

season as Villa manager and returning for pre-season training to

prepare for the campaign ahead, a luxury that I did not have last

season. “I have been extremely touched by all of the messages I

have received and by the reaction of people throughout the world of

football. “I am very grateful to the Villa fans for their genuine

concern and encouragement and to the fans of clubs up and down the

country for their kind sentiments. “I would especially like to

thank my assistant manager, Gary McAllister, my staff, the players

and all at Aston Villa for their support and, of course, for their

efforts in securing a very positive end to last season. “It has

been an honour to manage this great club and I wish everyone

connected with Aston Villa every success for the future.” Phil

Thompson, Houllier’s assistant at Liverpool and a close friend, was

surprised by the announcement. He told Sky Sports News: “I spoke to

Gerard yesterday and he was getting back to full health. It comes

as a bit of surprise. “He was fine and he was looking forward to

pre-season and everything. “Things have gone on today to change

matters but as far as health matters go he sounded good, he was

looking forward to it.” Asked if he felt the Frenchman’s

managerial career was now over, Thompson added: “The game would be

poorer if he packed it in. He’s a fantastic manager, a great

organiser and a great man manager and that’s important in the

modern day.”